June 19th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How can Obama impact fathers and families?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Sunday is Father's Day... and President Obama won't let it go by unnoticed.

He's devoting a large part of today to promoting the importance of being a good father as a national goal. The president is attending a series of events around Washington - including a town hall on personal responsibility and inviting boys from local schools to the White House. He's joined by high-profile athletes, actors and celebrities.

The president also wrote an essay that will appear in Parade magazine on Sunday. In it, he talks about growing up without a father around; and how that helped him understand the importance of fatherhood. Mr. Obama states:

"We need fathers to step up, to realize that their job does not end at conception; that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one."

The president admits that he's an imperfect father - making mistakes, and sometimes allowing work to interfere with his responsibilities as a dad.

On the campaign trail last year, Mr. Obama often talked about the importance of fathers being present and active - especially within the African-American community.

There are about 24-million children growing up with absent fathers in this country; a disproportionate number of them are black. These children are more likely to fall into poverty and crime, and become parents themselves as teens.

Here’s my question to you: What kind of impact can President Obama have on fathers and families?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Faye writes:
He's going to have a huge impact by just continuing to live life as he does. He's not just telling us but showing us an example of a good husband and father. We are so fortunate to have a man like this in the White House. Happy Father's Day to all fathers. everywhere.

Joe from St. Louis writes:
By creating an environment where they can find secure long-term jobs.

John from Seattle writes:
If we want better fathers in America, then we need better mothers. A man cannot enforce his custody rights without going to court. And since women are taking half of our income in child support, we can't afford a lawyer. So we just give up. When women stop using children as weapons to punish their children's fathers, we will see the number of absentee fathers drop dramatically.

Glenn writes:
Jack, I know from experience what it's like to grow up without a dad. It's something that will leave an indelible impression on a child's life permanently, as in, forever. If Pres. Obama wants fathers to be more responsible to their kids, then I say amen. He is to be commended for his concern for fatherless children. That hasn't happened in this country for a long time.

Claudia writes:
President Obama can only set the tone. The men who already act fatherly will continue to do so. Perhaps some "biologicals" will be nudged into the father column.

Krissy writes:
Obama is a great example, not only for men, but also for women who are making decisions about the type of men they want in their lives. He raises the bar for what people should expect from parents, and I think it is a great thing for our country. Engagement with your children is so important. It is good that he knows that being a good president isn't just about passing laws, it is challenging us to be our best selves.

Filed under: President Barack Obama
soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. Bee


    I hope that he has some clout to get these fathers to take care of their families. He might help get some to cooperate with this problem. I feel so sorry for the wives and mothers of their children. Fortunately I am not in this situation.

    June 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  2. Donna Colorado Springs,Co

    I think that people can look at the way that President Omama is with his wife and daughters and use that as a role model in their own lives. They can appreciate his involvement in his childrens everyday lives even with his monumental schedule as President, and realize that if he can do it, maybe they can become better parents too. I think that the date nights that he and his wife have also strengthen the entire family unit and is widely admired by most people. It's nice to see an "ordinary family" in the White House again.

    June 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  3. Mark, Bradenton,FL

    Improve the economy, create jobs, stop outsourcing and deport illegal aliens.

    June 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  4. jenny

    He is a black man that has been married to one woman and does not have a string of illigetiment children to support. (At least none we know of yet).He is plainly crazy about his wife and daughters. He is articulate and educated and he wears pants that fit. What a great role model for any man black or white.

    June 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  5. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    Example is one voice that is heard. His example in so many roles is something I could profit by paying attention to.

    June 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  6. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    Depending on the families’ situations, he can have enormous impact or very little.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  7. Jenna

    What kind of impact can President Obama have on fathers and families?

    By continuing what he is doing. His wife, Michelle, is not only his friend, she is his partner in marriage. They love and respect each other and he makes time for her.

    He also makes time for his children even in his busy schedule. He loves them and they love and respect both of their parents.

    He is setting an example that the men in America should emulate.

    Roseville CA


    June 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  8. Keith,Tamp,FL

    You mean, how can Obama further impact fathers and families? Keep doing just what he is doing. Period.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  9. Dennis North Carolina

    He could be a great mentor to fathers especially to minority men were fathers desert their children

    June 19, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  10. Ray in Nashville

    He has the most important job in the world and if he can find time for his family, so can every other husband and father.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  11. AndyZ Lynn, MA

    The only thing President Obama needs to do is to have film film crew follow he and his family for a week end. The love between husband and wife; father and daughters; mother and daughters and the openness and closeness the family shows as a unit is the example/impact the Obama's can have on fathers and families. And what a great example it is!

    June 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  12. Paul Austin, Texas

    He had to deal with his father leaving him when he was two years old. That alone gives him an advantage to tell all men that when you are a father you have not only been blessed with a child but you also have an obligation to help raise and provide for the child even if you and your wife are apart.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  13. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    If enough people embrace him as a role model, he can have a tremendous impact. If he really cares, he should frequently talk about the time he spends with his kids. After all, if the President can make time, everyone else should be able to as well.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  14. Joe CE

    Set a good example – plenty of familiy participation and no scandals.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  15. David, MS

    He can make us look bad on the bring your dad to school days. Or show and tell, what does your dad do Timmy?

    June 19, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  16. william fitzwater

    By being the person who he is. He is a role model because of the way he has made a life for him self out of unpromising beginnings.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  17. Tina Tx

    He already is a positive because he is a man of color who is still with his wife and children. Many just give up. You have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. No one can do it for you.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  18. Denny from Tacoma, WA

    He already has, particularly in the black community where many fathers have neglected their duties as such according to a recent CNN special. Being a good father is a learned behavior and Obama's leading by example is outstanding for all fathers.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  19. Larry, Ohio

    Jack,One of the things I really like about President Obama is how he carries himself as a family man.He can have a very positive impact by just being himself!

    June 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  20. Richard Sternagel

    President Obama Is making a good impact on fathers as he leads by example of his being a good father to his daughters and husband to his wife.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  21. Joyce

    The president is living family values. Many men may not have been aware of how important it is to have a date night with your wife. Men need to know that a happy wife makes for a happy life.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  22. Scott in Canada

    Making it cool to be a dad

    June 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  23. Joe from MO

    How can he impact fathers? By being a good husband and father himself.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  24. Gina in Racine, Wi

    A bi-racial man with a funny name and a foriegn born father became the President of the greatest Nation in the World.

    I think he knows what he is doing and what it takes......and I think others will try to emulate him.

    He is a great Father.......and leads by example.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  25. David Alexandria, VA

    Lead by example. Keep doing what he and his wife are doing to continually exhibit a strong family unit with a committed relaitonship to his daughters. Despite a crushing workload, it seems he finds quality time to spend with the girls, get to their soccer games, etc.

    In other words, unliess your job has you busier than runnieng the United States, find the time to care and to participate.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  26. Julie in the Conejo

    The President's essay on fatherhood in Parade Magazine this Sunday is wonderful. I hope everyone reads it.

    He's a fantastic role model–as a father, as a husband, as a leader and as a human being who admits that he struggles every day to be a better man.

    Gushy? Yes, Jack. After the immorality and hypocrisy we're used to in Washington, having President Obama as a role model for our country (fathers and others) is cause for lots of sentimentality–and pride.

    Happy Father's Day to you.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  27. odessa

    i hope alot because single mothers always carry the burden for their kids so they can be happy.majority of single mothers have to handle both roles in the household which isn't fair for them anyway.a majority of single fathers doesn't want to step up their plate because they are only concern for not paying child support or taking care of their kids.some single fathers are playing both roles too in a household but they are often not getting the same respect as mothers too.i hope that all fathers spend more time with their kids and be there for them because they can look up to them as role models instead being thugs on the street,an entertainer or a sports athlete.maybe it can reduce the number of bad choices that young kids shouldn't have to face while they are young.you can tell president obama is looking out for his family because he never had a father who can take care of him or give him the guidance that he would have need.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  28. Terry in Virginia

    He's a good motivational speaker but he will have little impact on dead-beat dads (or mothers). The government can't enforce morality, but it sure can enforce laws about dead beats - fathers or mothers –who don't pay child support. If men don't want to be fathers, then keep it zipped. Unwanted children, like myself, will thank you for sparing us a lifetime of hurt and neglect.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  29. ed from chicago

    I have to believe that the president's superb example is worth a thousand words. Beyond that, his best course of action is to support measures to ensure that people who do not want children do not have them. Poverty and lack of education create the ideal conditions for negligent-parent families. Churches who claim to value life, but impede common-sense measures to prevent conceptions by those who don't want to parent need to be marginalized. Giving men a choice between celibacy and fatherhood is not likely to produce many Ward Cleavers or Cliff Huckstables.

    June 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  30. Chester

    Jack i have a strong belief that the president obama has already made a strong impact because i look to him as a person that teaches and lead by example for all young and older fathers, There the American family that the world has grown to love

    June 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  31. Rick Medina,OH


    It is my guess that the President's example and writings will inspire good Dads to be even better. Unfortunately, the bad ones won't even notice.

    Rick, Medina, OH

    June 19, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  32. Helena from Sacramento, California

    President Obama has a huge impact on fathers and families not just in the USA but worldwide. He has learned a lot from the mistakes his father made and is setting a great example to males everywhere.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  33. Jeff in Glen Carbon IL

    He may not impact the deadbeat Dads of taday, but he can have a tremendous impact on preventing deadbeat Dads of tomorrow!

    June 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  34. Judy, Exeter, Calif,

    The presence of strong parents is vital to keep kids in balance. President Obama is looked up to by a huge number of people in this country. While he admits he is not perfect, you have to but look at his family to know he is doing things rather well. He and Michelle are partners raising their girls. He is a good example for everyone, and I think the result may just be fewer children growing up with absent fathers, a reduction of crime, and unwanted pregnancy.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  35. Alice Hill

    President Obama is a perfect man to talk about being a GOOD father for what he is saying he is a PERFECT EXAMPLE!

    Our children need their FATHERS in home and if not possible in the home being active in their CHILDREN LIVES!

    June 19, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  36. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: He can't--you cannot just restore morals and values to fathers and families that have none--that is something each father and family needs to search within themselves. You might be able to change attitudes---but you cannot change "behavior,"--–that is something that is learned.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  37. joe stlouis mo

    By creating an environment where they can find secure long term jobs.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  38. Janice from Collingswood NJ

    First of all, he is a terrific example of good fatherhood. Men have to realize that time with children is what is important. Marriage and fideliity is also important. Having 13 kids by 11 women is being selfish and stupid. NEVER have more children than you can support
    monetarily AND emotionally. How can you spend significant time with any of 13 children?

    June 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  39. Jay in Texas

    President Obama could have a huge impact on American fathers, mothers, and families. One area that is probably the most critical is to emphasize the extreme importance of daily exercise and a sensible diet. Recent studies have shown that 2 out of 3 adult Americans are overweight. Most of them develop the problem as children and it is a national health crisis. The President's children appear to be healthy, trim, and happy and are a good example for American kids to follow.
    Brownwood, Texas

    June 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  40. Martin in Shoreline, WA

    He is going to have a huge impact on the black community, just by setting an example. But the rest of America needs something else.

    The ERA was defeated by women, because women came to realize what they would lose if it passed. Chief of which, is the concept of basing child support upon a woman's spending habits. It should be based upon what it costs to raise a child, period.

    Right now, it is based upon taking half of a man's income. This doesn't make fatherhood attractive to us. It is responsible for the demise of marriage in this country, and the number of fatherless children.

    We should pass the ERA, but women won't allow it. If it passed, no more sexual harassment lawsuits. Women will be eligible for the draft. No more gender bias in the form of the violence against women act. No more (en)Title(d) 9. Women will be equally accountable for child support, instead of expecting men to pull the entire load.

    When men are treated equally in family court, these problems will go away. Men are treated as badly in America, as women are treated in China.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  41. Lance Schumacher

    In today's culture, where personal responsibily is almost non-existent, particularly in the welfare world, the President's words are landing on deaf ears. Why should anyone worry about raising a kid when they can get the government to do it for them, and get paid for having more kids as long as there is no man around to support them. Want a good example, look at the guy in Tennessee, 20 + kids, by a dozen or so different women, all on welfare spending your tax dollars. Octo-mom with a couple of million dollars of medical bills paid by welfare, drawing welfare, no Dad around. Obama's wasting his time!
    Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    June 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  42. Dominic Gardunio

    The biggest impact is just being there for his family, so fathers around the nation will be in their child(ren) lifes!!

    June 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  43. Alan - Buxton, Maine

    By being a father with a family who is visible and a good example he has already had an enormous impact.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  44. Doug F. from Montana

    The President could begin by reversing the policies of his administration that attack and weaken families.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  45. George

    Not only do we have too many uncommitted fathers, we have way too many mothers who are having babies just so they can take advantage of the welfare systems. When you have this type of activity that is rampant, no wonder that we have too many fatherless homes in America. This is not a black, or white problem, it an American problem that needs to be addressed. Tell me these are not cases of child abuse in advance. Having a baby just in order to get a place to live, and or get welfare, or food stamps, or hospitalization is a big problem. What is wrong with going to school, getting a job, and being an active contributor to our nations economy instead of just being a drain on the rest of us? What is wrong about having a concience? What is wrong with being accountable? What does this really make you out to be?

    June 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  46. John in Santa Barbara

    If Obama continues to spread himself too thin by trying to touch on every issue, he will only be able to leave latent fingerprints.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  47. Cheryl

    I think he will have a very positive impact. Obama stresses having a sense of responsibility in all matters – but this is a very important issue and can go a long way in raising the living standards for African-Americans.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  48. Remo .............. Austin, Texas

    I doubt that there'll be any impact. There have been other role models and we haven't seen any results. Why would this be any different.

    June 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  49. Melissa

    A good health loving family is an inspiration to everyone. Its exactly what we need.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  50. Karen in CA

    He can model backbone by taking principled stands he believes in and be willing to fight for them.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  51. Susan from Twin Falls Idaho

    No doubt about it Jack, we have a leader with more character than the law allows and that will set a precedent for all the young people that voted for him and promoted his campaign. For the first time in many years we have a real champion in the white house. I jumped in line behind this man more than two years ago and have never looked back.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  52. Chris D., NYC

    By continuing to do the work of fixing this wreck of an economy.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  53. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    President Obama's impact on fathers and families will be long term for some and short term for others. Unfortunately, the government can't change the mentality of individuals when it comes to the responsibilities of their children and family.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  54. Jerry

    He's a much better father that Edwards, Craig, Vitter and Ensign.
    Enough said!

    June 19, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  55. Jamal Saint Petersburg, FL

    A big one. He's already made an impact, I watched his speech, and heard one of the members of the audience say that his image has increased membership ten fold. Obama is everything this nation needs for the moment.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  56. Brittnay Palm Beach, Florida

    I think the President is very much aware of how many of todays problems stem from individuals who were not raised in good loving homes. Gang activity, drugs, prostitution usually become alternatives to those who had no family to fall back on. Giving the generation of youth who maybe didn't have the greatest parental figures a good role model might help shape the future of our next generation.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  57. Marty in Kansas City

    By doing what he is doing. Leading by example.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  58. John in Illinois

    Jack does it not take two to tango ? I believe he is the first president to bring up this issue or with this much priority. He speaks we listen, that all he can do.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  59. Stephen R. Collier

    It's hard to break the cycle of fathers not being around. Fathers that aren't around enable their sons to think that they don't have to stick around. Dads without dads need to remember how uncool it was that they're fathers weren't there and end the cycle. Obama would need to hit this problem from every angle and often to make a real difference.

    Virginia Beach

    June 19, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  60. Scott Stodden

    I think President Obama is a great impact on fathers around the country, he is a loving dad to his children who spends as much time as possible with his girls. If these fathers who make babies and are not around as there children are growing up the President tells these people point blank it is wrong. I think within his 4yrs as President fathers will follow in his footsteps and take his words to heart, that we need to be there for our children as much as possible. Happy Fathers Day 2009 to all the fathers out there and especially to my father Michael Stodden who served his country in Vietnam and works hard still to this day at 60yrs old.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport, IL)

    June 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm |

    I'm sure he is a good father but I wouldn't look at him as a roll model.
    Nothing personal, but the presidents family just does not meet the criteria of a struggling family trying to make ends meet and trying to be a good parent at the same time.
    It's easier to become frustrated when your poor. In most cases its easier to make your children happy when you don't have to worry about where your next pay check is going to come from.
    Mr President would I be a better father if I could afford to put my children through college?
    Happy fathers day Mr President.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  62. Linda in Florida

    He is a class act through and through! He obviously loves his wife and his daughters and shows it with every action. I get goose bumps when I see them all together!

    June 19, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  63. Anthony....Swedesboro, NJ

    Since the black community suffers from absent fathers the most, Obama, a good father, can only embarrass these deadbeat fathers.
    Black men will see that being a good father is not just acting white but a gift of responsibility and the power to lead your children up the right path. My favorite times are spent with my son and the way he looks at me for direction and advice. I made him and I'll darn well raise him!

    June 19, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  64. Diane Dagenais Turbide


    anyone who is a father that shows to others how to be a loving and responsible father influences everyone on top of raising the quality of life of everyone inside and outside the families. In fact, when you think about it loving and responsible fatherhood just as motherhood actually gives us all loving and responsible adults! That is a healthier society physically, culturally, emotionally and economically!

    June 19, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  65. James McCombs

    think the popularity of President Obama and his positive relationshhip with his wife and daughters makes him a good role model of fatherhood. While the demands of being President keeps him away from his family sometimes he still stays involved in their lives. He also admits to not being a perfect father. I think this is important because it lets other fathers know that it isn't necessary to be the perfect father, just to strive to be the best father they can be.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  66. Linda in Bisbee, AZ

    He's a good and loving father. He's already made a positive impact, especially on fathers of girls. He seems perfectly happy not to have the precious, requisite son, and that makes him okay in my book.

    June 19, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  67. Agnes from Scottsdale, AZ

    Jack: By just being himself and showing his interest and respect for his famiy is a huge step forward. Past presidents looked like they were reading scripts when it came to supporting the role of being a father. Obama really means it. He's a great example to those men who may be contemplating walking out on their responsibilities. He will not solve the issue, but what a great step forward!

    June 19, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  68. Missy M

    This might come out sounding wrong, but I think Obama is a walking contradiction. He is successful and also has a beautiful, happy family – he is a great role model for responsibility and fatherhood. But at the same time, because he was raised by a single mother and had minimal contact with his father growing up, it can also be said that he is proof that even single mothers can raise a child to become president. Not all fathers are good fathers (and not all mothers are good mothers) - sometimes, the children are better off if an abusive or drug-addicted parent bows out of their lives.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  69. Kathy/ GA

    Just the looks on the faces of Sasha and Malia when they look at him should be the looks that every father should want to see on their children's faces. According to Michelle, they could care less that he is the president. To them he is an imperfect father with perfect love toward his children.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  70. Joe W Tamarac, Florida

    I really think he'll have very little impact. I voted for him and think he's doing a great job, but if you're a responsible, loving Dad, you've already stepped up to the plate to parent and love your kids. If you're a terrible parent, that value, too, is already instilled. That bad father will need more than the man from Pennsylvania Avenue to turn him into a father with good core values.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  71. Carol

    President Obama's attention to his girls and wife and Bo show that no matter what your job is - you can find time for meaningful family outings, dinner together, and some fun. It is easy for both fathers and mothers to become so involved with their respective jobs that family can take a back seat. I salute the Obama family for showing all of us how you can stay in touch with your family and still work and play.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  72. Maria Hollywood, Ca

    i think he already has Jack, he had a great father figure with his grandfather.
    The first lady and the President are doing a great job parenting their children. a little tuff love, lots of decipline, a sense of responsibility
    what a great source of inspiration to fathers of america.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  73. Bee

    I hope that with his own experience and sharing that with others, he will be able to move fathers and mothers who leave their families to go back and be a part of their childrens lives. I know as I was growing up how much my parents meant to me, both mother and father, and that I still look up to my parents and am so appreciative of all the time, money, and love that they put into me just for me to be a happy kid and to have a good life. To all fathers and mothers who are involved in their children's lives, Thank you!

    June 19, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  74. Faye

    He's going to have a huge impact by just continuing to live life as he does. He's not just telling us but showing us an example of a good husband and father. We are so fortunate to have a man like this in the Whitehouse. Happy Father's Day to all father's everywhere.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  75. Pablo in Tejas

    the President can have a huge impact; especially if the speech he gives matches the example he has set as a husband and father. As good as he is when it comes to making speeches, I think the example he has already given will far outshine anything he says. Next to my Pop and my brothers, he's about the finest Dad in the business.

    Arlington Texas

    June 19, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  76. Chip

    Demonstrate discipline. Stop smoking!

    June 19, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  77. John in LA

    I don't know if the President's inspirational example will mean anything to a dead-beat dad today. But he may have a HUGE influence on the new generation of boys who are growing into men.

    Obama is an African American man whose father deserted the family when he was two–and yet grew up to achieve so much and become not only President, but a much-admired family man himself.

    Through his words–but even more through his life and his actions–I do believe that President Obama is a powerful role model for a new generation..

    I definitely believe that, some young men will aspire to more than what they've seen in their own lives–because they have this amazing role model.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  78. Phil, Dallas TX

    I think it is great that the President is promoting familial responsibility. I think we need positive role models in this country, and I applaud Obama's efforts wholeheartedly.

    I do not think that he will have much of an impact on this problem of fatherless children in this country, though. The best influence for a potential father is growing up with a father in your home that loves his kids and treats his wife with love and respect.

    In the absense of a father in the home, I think the next best scenario would be for other men (eclesiastical leaders, extended family members, community leaders, sports coaches, etc. ) to play positive roles in the lives of young men. Daily demonstrating proper behavior is best for a boy to learn and decide to be a responsible father himself.

    The President can play at best a supportive influence to reaffirm that being a responsible is the way to go. I think children need a much closer, a more involved and a more consistent good influence in their lives than any political leader can provide.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  79. Catty

    I think the best way he can impact mens lives is by teaching them that they need to be husbands before they become fathers. It does no good to a child to have a father that is never in the home. A mand needs to love his wife before any children become invlovled

    June 19, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  80. Krissy

    Obama is a great example, not only for men, but also for women who are making decisions about the type of men they want in their lives. He raises the bar of what people should expect from parents in general, and I think it is a great thing for our country. Engagement with your children is so important, and it is good that he knows that being a good President isn't just about passing laws, it is challenging us to be our best selves.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  81. PAT California

    Obama is a great DAD! He is a perfect roll model for fathers. He has said himself that he's not perfect, but as a Dad, he comes darn close to it! If more men followed in his footsteps, there wouldn't be so many single MOMS!

    June 19, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  82. Rudy

    President Obama can have a great impact on Fathers, that is if he has the good sense to get out of their way and let them be Fathers!

    I think it's great that he is promoting responsible fathering. That has to be driving the liberals nuts!

    June 19, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  83. David Lee

    Pres. Obama has had very to no impact on me in regards to my family. I consider myself a good and responsible father. The most valuable thing that a father can give to his child (children) is good quality time and information. It is more valuable to the child than money. In spite of his unbelievable schedule, he still spends time with his family. That should be an inspiration to us all. It is for me. Excellent question Jack!

    June 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  84. Stacey

    I am very happy to see Obama continuing to address the importance of fatherhood in all communities. I think that his impact can and will be great. He speaks from experience as an abandoned child and a great father.

    June 19, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  85. John, Fayetteville, NY

    Impact the President has on Father's and Families???....hmmmm, sounds a lot like Family Values, wasn't that a mainstay of the GOP? Are the liberals now saying that they "embrace" family values....the value of a real male figurehead called "dad" in the family structure, wow, what a revelation. How will that set with the gay and lesbian community....mixed signals for sure, and man don't even mention that to the Transgender Community. I think at the end of the day, both parties may in fact realize, that when they shed the cloaks of their political parties, they may in fact share in the very core values that make this country so great. Happy Father's Day to all you real Dads out there, and shame on those who don't pick up the role, for it's your lose....but there's always today (not tomorrow) to start trying.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  86. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    He can set a role model for people who grew up without a Dad. He's well liked and may be able to influence many men on how important it is to be a good Dad and take responsibility for their children. Happy Father's Day to you and Wolf.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  87. Candy

    President Obama just needs to keep showing that kids and parental responsibility are equally as important as even the biggest job in the world. He's showing these irresponsible men that fleeing your responsibility is pure cowardice and a real man is able to do right by his family. The exodus of the black father will hopefully be addressed, as Mr. President will suddenly make this unappealing. Hopefully the women who still date these deadbeats will finally see this as an unattrative quality and reject these losers. Then maybe they'll straighten up!

    June 19, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  88. Patricia Miami, Fl

    When one sees the family together, their interaction, their love for each other it brings joy to all. He, the President, and his family can be a wonderful role model for all, not only in the States but around the world. We are so lucky to have the Obamas in the White House.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:06 pm |
  89. Tom Crawford

    If he convinces one father to be a Dad, God Bless him.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  90. Cynthia in Canada

    My admiration for this man continues to grow every day.
    His children are fortunate to have such a wonderful father.
    His wife is fortunate to have such a loving husband.
    America is blessed to have such an amazing man for president.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  91. Mark Halpert Boca Raton, FL

    The best way to help dads is to make helping dads a priority - not only do dads need to stay around, they need to be a constructive part of the equation - and be partners with school work, setting an example and being there for their children and their spouses

    There are very positive voices like Bill Cosby and Colin Powell to partner with - African American, Hispanic, white and all dads need to step up to the table - and leading with other powerful dads would help

    June 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  92. Joe (San Diego, CA)

    President Obama can have a HUGE impact on fathers and families by leading the country in securing equal rights and federal benefits for all families, including the families of GLBT people. I did not see one image of a GLBT father or family in today's ceremonies. WHY?

    June 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  93. Lee

    President Obama is leading by example. You can see the love he has for his daughters and they love him as well. The genuine love that they have for one another says it all. Their relationship is an example for ALL RACES, not just African Americans.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  94. Joseph

    He could support Marriage Equality and let gay fathers raise their children without making these families second class United States citizens.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  95. PH

    Being a father is important. Someone ought to say it. So why not the president?

    June 19, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  96. Herman

    Parenting is more than exhortations to do the right thing. What our popular president can and should do is stress the importance of education, such as what he has in abundance - for parents, not just children. It not only takes a village, which few families have anymore, it takes some know-how. That know-how is available if one has an interest in seeking it out in libraries and int he advice of professional, and not just from other stressed-out friends and the latest best-selling author or TV pseudo-psycho personality.
    Fresno, CA

    June 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  97. Claudia Miles

    President Obama can only set the tone. The men who already act fatherly will continue to do so. Perhaps some "biologicals" will be nudged into the father column.


    June 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  98. Kimberly Wainwright

    Hi Jack,

    He can impact fathers and families just by continuing to be the wonderful example of father hood that he has been.so far. Malia and Shasha are very lucky children.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  99. Glenn Johnson

    Jack, I know from experience what it's like to grow up without a dad. It's something that will leave an indelible impression on a child's life permanently, as in, forever. If President Obama wants fathers to be more responsible to their kids, then I say AMEN. He is to be commended for his concern for fatherless children. That hasn't happened in this country for a long time.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  100. Vincent

    Obama is a revolutionary in fatherhood. Despite his extremely busy scheduel, he is there for them. He is a prime example that balancing family and career is done with some hard work and dedication. Something that a lot of fathers just don't do the way they use to. We need to bring that back in force.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  101. Jim Sanchez

    Finally...something I agree about with the President!

    June 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  102. Jacqueline Mongeot

    President Obama and his wife are role models for all American families, pehaps more particularly African-American families, Both of them exemplify the caring and responsibilities being parents represent.. It seems that in their case father, mother and daughters' intimate relationship is based on love, mutual respect, guidance and opened conversations. The de finition of fatherhood responsibility changes with different cultures. Most often fathers are the providers, child rearing, diet, hygiene, education, behavior, values being the responsibility of mothers. Both father and mother should share the complete rearing of their children, both should decide on the rules and together modify the rules as the children grow up. I hope that the Obama family know that.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  103. Ed

    In Wolf's interview with Gov. Palin, She spoke about the need for men to stand up and respect females. It was good to see Pres. Obama agree with her in acknowledging men to to strive to be better fathers, better husbands, and better men.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  104. Herman

    June 19th, 2009 6:16 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Parenting is more than exhortations to do the right thing. What our popular president can and should do is stress the importance of education, such as what he has in abundance — for parents, not just children. It not only takes a village, which few families have anymore, it takes some know-how. That know-how is available if one has an interest in seeking it out in libraries and in the advice of professionals, and not just from other stressed-out friends and the latest best-selling author or TV pseudo-psycho personality.
    Fresno, CA

    June 19, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  105. Joseph Chermesino

    Hope Obama includes unfortunate kids that have to be brought up by dad because their mother is absent... There are some moms that abandon their responsibilities too.

    Hallandale Beach, FL

    June 19, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  106. Ron Williams

    Jack, I was a life long Republican, and one reason I jumped ship and voted for President Obama is because of his Responsible Father speech. I am the father of 10 and 14 year old daughters. Everyday is a struggle...economically, physically and emotionally for both my wife and I. The President has already helped and can continue to help by promoting the family and leading by example. Young men need to know being a good Father is very tough and men that have grown up without a Father should be inspired by President Obamas example. Happy Fathers Day to all the good Fathers out there ! Hang in there !

    June 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  107. Jermara B. Thorne

    I believe that president Obama can have an impact .The degree of this impact however lies in his action or lack their of in his administration. The youth should be one of our major focus in this country beacause they are our potential future leaders they need structure, support, discipline, love, and that comes from having both parents involved in their lives. However the process of correcting this upsetting trend has to start at the grassroots level. Commnity members need to become more involved and dedicated to this, as this factor can have a significant impact on many youth.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  108. Annie, Atlanta

    I don’t think he can have much of an impact. It has to come from within. We women carry the babies, and are in tune even before they’re born. A man has to grow into the role. Some are made for it, and some are not.

    Have a happy Father's Day, Jack.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  109. Bobbi

    By example. We all try to emulate people that we respect.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  110. Chris

    Absolutely! My message to fathers out there is spend time with your kids because they will make you a better person. My 15 year old daughter and my 12 year old are my heroes because they inspire me to be the person I've always wanted to be. They're untainted and idealistic. Hang with them and you will be better for it!

    June 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  111. Valarie


    Obama's example as a good Dad will spark the flame of responsibility in those men that have grown up and realized their kids really need them. No kid should be without their Dad, but specifically, there's nothing worse than a female child coming into womanhood without her father. Just by Obama being in their lives, Sasha and Malia will be less likely than most American girls to suffer from destructive low self-esteem and a string of jacked up relationships....looking for in a man what they couldn't find in Dad. Unfortunately, this is fact.

    Durham, NC

    June 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  112. Daniel Fortuin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    Yes, I think president Obama can have a positive influence on the behaviour of fathers, and I hope not just fathers from the African-American community. However, the problems that families face can be complicated and need more than just a presidential preach (and preach not to be interpreted negative of course here). I do think that a good deal of those problems have to be associated with psychological disorders, so in those cases there are also psychologists or psychiatrists required. Hereby I also still want to congratulate pres. Obama with his election victory, I have good hopes that he will be one of the greatest presidents ever.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  113. Chris in Redding, CA

    Having read President Barack's book "Dreams From My Father", I have the utmost respect for his endevor to challenge fathers to be real fathers. He wrote the book in 1995 I believe, and throughout it he reflected on his search for who his father really was as a person and how his father affected his own life. He also noted the breakdown of families without a father figure. His care is genuine in this matter, and he knows how it can affect our future. Kudo's to the prez for this one.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  114. Ruth Pyle, Jefferson City, MO

    President Obama can use his influence to give divorced or single fathers equality as a parent. Currently in most states, fathers have no real rights to their children if the mother decides not to allow them. Mothers usually get legal custody and child support, then block fathers from seeing their children, often for no better reason than spite. Judges may give fathers visitation rights, but do not enforce these rights if the mothers do not honor them. Fathers are often stuck with child support payments to a mother who doesn't work, lives with another man who doesn't work, and has children from other relationships from which she may or may not be collecting child support. If the President expects fathers to step up for their children, he needs to find a way that all deserving fathers can be part of their children's lives.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  115. Chris

    He can a stay out of my families business. He has taken over the entire country in leading this nation to the worst unemployment since Jimmy Carter, so just leave my family alone.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  116. Gary in Lexington

    Hi Jack:
    Keep on keeping on Mr. President. He is a loving parent, who readily admits his imperfections, but gives his all, given the difficult job he has. He is also a good husband, who makes time for "dates" with his wife, which I think are precious. On the campaign trail, he placed a lot of emphasis on being a reponsible man, not at conceiving, but on parenting your children. However, now I believe it is time for him to address the young women of our Country; afterall, they ARE the ones bringing these fatherless children into the world. They need to make better decisions, regarding if and when to get pregnant, and equally or more important, with whom! Sorry ladies, but it is YOUR choice, choose wisely!

    June 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  117. Najee Williams

    Obama's speech will have little affect on fatherhood unless and until he identifies another major problem with society; the fact that the courts don't want to see fathers as fathers. The see fathers as a means of financial support and THAT'S IT.

    This comes from and african-american father who fought for years for visitation and, ultimately, custody of his 3 boys. Even after many years of court battles (and foster homes because of the mother) I was FINALLY granted custody, but ordered to pay her child support. AND SHE MADE MORE MONEY THAN I!!!.

    Family court is the most corrupt branch of the judiciary, but no one, not even the president will acknowledge the problems with the lack of father's rights. Not even on Father's Day.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  118. Reza E

    What Obama is doing is the right thing. He should make a BIG emphasis on fatherhood to the public. People MUST understand that taking care of your children is extremely important. It is unacceptable for a First World country to have 24 million children that don’t have a father.
    People MUST understand the gravity of this problem. If this number grows, it will create greater social and economical problems for the United States.

    Reza E, MA

    June 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  119. Marge from Hibbing Minnesota

    Fathers of all races and ecomonic situations abandon their children and the mother has to raise them. IF all the MEN who supported him and banned Hillary would just practice what they preach and use his actions as a father, who shows he loves his wife and children, as a role model, maybe a lot of children would have both parents and learn what a father's love is.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  120. Sue - CA

    President Obama needs to keep doing what he's doing. I think he can inspire by his example and words – because words do matter. I like when I hear the President and his wife talk about respect – that's a big concept.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  121. ken

    Since Mr. Obama is president, anything he says has a huge influence on some people. I would look to a higher authority for my guidance. But when one heres the truth and knows it , it's a teachable moment!

    June 19, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  122. Joe

    I think it is important that he speak about the responsibility of being a father.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  123. Lisa

    There was recently some negative press about the costs involved with Obama taking his wife on a date to New York. Unfortunately, in the world today, expensive precautions are necessary to protect the president and his family. I am so impressed that Obama was willing to accept that criticism that he was bound to see coming. He has shown in many, many ways that his family truly does come first. He also understands that cultivating a strong marriage is one of the most important things he can do for his daughters. They will benefit from that example now as children and throughout their lives as potential wives and mothers.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  124. Denise

    He's already impacting father's and families, Jack. Want proof? Look at all the talk about his weekly dates with Michelle.

    He is a very good example for dads, especially Black men.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  125. Joanna

    Hopefully it will become more fashionable for young people to emulate the Obama's for their intellect, educational achievements, family responsibilities than loosing toward entertainment under-achievers as role models.
    Parents have an obligation to teach their children to become productive members of society and rise above mediocrity. It appears that the Obamas live by that philosophy and impart their values to their children as well.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  126. Josh

    I think president Obama is an example of what all fathers should be. "Responsible"

    June 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  127. Kiki

    I don't think obama can help any man be a better father. Its girls that need to be taught self respect, self control and responsibility just like my parents taught me. But we won't hear that now, that would not be politically correct. The burden of children aways fall on the mother, so if girls don't want to become mothers with the great responsibility of raising these children alone, then they better wise up.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  128. Chris in Va.

    I honestly cannot predict the impact President Obama's efforts will have but I do know that a society in which men need to be told to provide for their children, nurture them and teach them moral values is doomed to failure......sad.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  129. Marshall Clark

    i don't think Obama will have any effect on father or families. I have worked as a teacher and therapist for thirty years and you can not legislate morals or values. If the government does something in place of rhetoric, it might effect some change... Iike stop subsidizing benefits for unmarried mothers and tracking down the fathers and making them pay. People understand paying when they lack moral or a sense of responsibility. Consider how Bill Cosby was received by the black community when he tried to motivate blacks.

    In the venacular of the street, ain't going to happen, man.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  130. Ann Perry Garland Tx

    God Bless him for speaking out.Let hope and pray that black,whites and the rest will help raise their kid and be a parent live with their mate and teach them pride and dignity. Have some respect along the way.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  131. Carole

    @ Dennis of North Carolina.........the absentee father is in alot of ethnic colors. If you do the statistics of who is on welfare nation wide, you would be surprised how many Whites are on welfare.

    This is a problem with all races not just Black.

    I feel President Obama is an excellent example because his father was not there for him and he has vowed to be better. I am sure as a child, he had many fantasies and reasons that his father was not there. He brings to the issue that just because you have had it hard, pick yourself up and be better.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  132. Barbara

    They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Children learn by example-and what better example is a young man who just happens to himself have grown up without a father yet worked his way up to become the President of the United States.
    I think just seeing him in that position on a daily basis speaks volumes. I know it does for me. He makes me proud to be an American-something I never would have said over the last, long 8 years!

    June 19, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  133. Pepper in CA

    President Obama can have a large impact on fathers and families just by being an example of a good father. Young teens looking for answers to who am I, what am I suppose to do will have an example to follow. We know that part of the issue of why young people join gangs is for a sense of family a sense of someone giving them an example of what to do.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  134. John - Carlsbad, CA


    Both Michelle and Barack Obama are role models for all parents. Parenting or lack there of is a major problem in this country. Parents who take their kids to McDonalds 4 nights a week for "dinner" or let their kids run a muck around retail stores like it is their playground need to look at the Obama's and emulate. Same goes for those parents who let the TV raise their kids then complain at the results as if it is not their fault.

    Look and learn. Be parents, if they can do it, anyone can! You just have to want to and make it a priority.

    Carlsbad, CA

    June 19, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  135. Steven Mansaray

    Jack, my president is doing just fine, he is already an icon of fatherhood across the world. speaking out the truth to fathers responsibilities in the home with kids (like turn off the TV and read to your kids...sounds familiar??). Let just keep doing what he does best, being a father as he has always been. As a father of a beatiful boy, he is my example. Happy fathers day to all back home

    From Sierra Leone, West Africa.

    June 19, 2009 at 6:52 pm |
  136. Pat Cusick

    Some time ago I taught high school in Harlem and had a number of pregnant girls in my classes. Very often the fathers of their children were in the class or in adjoining classes. A lot of joking went on between the girls and the young men who had made them pregnant. The whole situation changed, however, when the babies were born,. The young men usually melted into the "street," dropping out of school, leaving the girls and their families to care for the newborn babies and raise them to adulthood.

    When I see Obama showing his concern for Michele and his little girls, I know these young men–wherever they are–are watching. For many it is the first time they have gotten the message: Babies aren't a joke. They need to be raised to aadulthood. Their mothers need care and respect. These young men are watching Obama model what a good husband and father is. They are going to change.

    June 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm |
  137. sheila

    women need to remeber that it is not blood that makes a father but actions so if bilogical father is not in the picture there are good men out there to step in and be a good role model and teach our young boys how to be a good man so for all those stepdads out there i say thank you for teaching our next generation that being a dad is more about who you are not where you came from

    June 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm |

    By continuing to be a good father himself and Love the fact that more groups of Men are so open to discussions groups in their own areas to help other men and peers to understand the Importance of fathers in their children lives.
    We all need to learn to cherish Our parents and allow them to be human until we walk in their shoes

    June 19, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  139. Rick McDaniel

    I doubt that Obama will have any impact on fathers or families. Bill Cosby has been talking about that topic for a whole lot longer, and he has made minimal progress, as well.

    June 19, 2009 at 8:05 pm |